I'm working on a laptop for a client today and have encountered an issue I haven't seen before. It's an old Toshiba Satellite with XP SP3. The issue is that it is unable to get a network connection -- even when an ethernet cable is plugged in, the network card still reports "Network cable is unplugged", and no wireless networks appear in the wireless networking list (with Windows XP managing the wireless networking). Occasionally, repairing the wireless connection lets me at least see available networks, but at that point I still can only connect to open networks and it never actually gets an IP address.
I've run Spybot, ComboFix, and SDFix with no problems found. I've also used a couple shareware registry checkers and cleaned out some archaic, invalid, and corrupt entries. No change. Also confirmed all Toshiba drivers are up to date.
I've disassembled and reassembled the laptop to confirm all connections are firm, also solving a random shutdown problem caused by dust buildup around the heat sink. One problem solved but still no progress on the networking issue.
I'm suspecting a hardware problem due to some other issues (random loss of USB, periodic loss of trackpad and keyboard use at boot). I'd like to wipe the hard drive clean and reload everything from the original install media and document backups but the client is not open to that due to installed bootleg programs she'd lose due to not having the original discs or license keys.
Any other ideas?